This Appliance Brand Squeezed Turkey’s Famously Long Soap Operas Into 6-Second YouTube Ads

You're still not getting a kiss anytime soon

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Turkish soap operas are a cultural powerhouse … and not just in Turkey. In 10 years, the industry has evolved from gripping local interest to hitting $350 million in exports, and will likely hit the 1 billion mark by 2023.

And while adaptations for Western markets are in the works, it’s likely actual Western viewers haven’t seen a Turkish drama in the flesh. Part of that has to do with culture, but another aspect is time: They are historically, unbelievably long, sometimes taking whole seasons to get from a meet-cute to a first kiss.

Thankfully, electronics and household appliance manufacturer Vestel is here to save the day!

With help from Concept Istanbul, the brand is taking advantage of YouTube’s newest ad model, TrueView, to create emotionally-charged six-second series. Expect laughter and tears, betrayal and intense declarations of love … plus some hilariously tactless Vestel product placement.

“It’s a challenging, creative, exciting new approach for agencies and brands,” Concept’s creative director Umut Dizdar tells AdFreak. In Turkey’s culture, “people love Turkish dramas but hate their absurdly long durations. Each episode is at least 90 minutes. Then we thought, what would happen if an episode of a Turkish soap opera took just six seconds?”

If this is your first time on the Turkish drama merry-go-round, start with In a Flood of Tears, a nine-episode series about two lovers with totally overwrought, improbable reactions to daily life. You’ll also meet a few classy Vestel homewares.

“The Youtube bumper-ad format targets mainly millennials—the generation of short videos, thanks to Vine and Snapchat,” Dizdar continues. “They can’t stand long videos. Vestel wanted us to find an innovative way of reaching the youth target.”

Product placement can also be complex and difficult in traditional Turkish series, he adds. “Creating our own series and product placement is far more economic and entertaining!”

For those who like their drama with a mama and a shot of Scorsese, we give you Mafia Mama, five episodes of enraged slap-happy Godmother antics.

“Vestel does not recommend buying small-house appliances for Mother’s Day,” the brand warns when a clueless son is sent flying onto the floor after offering his matriarch a brand-new iron. (Never, ever offer your mom an iron. Unless she has specifically OK’ed that.)

“It was very hard to cram in the whole story, acting in just six seconds. Everybody in the set was holding a chronometer in every scene. Many beautiful shots could not be used because of the timing,” Dizdar laments.

We loved that opening Mafia Mama dove shot, though. Concept managed to do lots with very little, and the level of care is reflected in the production. The payoffs are slapstick, sure, but these are funner to watch than that one time Gap made a microseries for Instagram’s then-new looping videos.

It’s hard to grab attention in mere seconds without seeming desperate, but Vestel succeeds by leaning all the way in without worrying about how its hair looks.

Last up, there’s Better Off Dead, nine episodes of drive-by trauma and death—except in the episode that features Vestel product placement, because, you know, awkward.

“After we broadcasted the series, we saw that bumper ads are definitely for youth consumers,” Dizdar says. “They embraced our project. On the other hand, our elders didn’t get the project and asked for longer, 45-minute versions of Vestel dramas.”

Well, you can’t win everybody … but 45 minutes is still pretty short for your garden variety Turkish drama. Sounds like compromise?

“We’re already preparing the second season of our Vestel series, and writing for whole new dramas for young fans.” Looking forward to it, Dizdar. We could use a Vestel mixer in the break room, where most of our crying happens.


Umut Dizdar
Creative Director
Concept Istanbul

Client: Vestel
Chief Marketing Officer: Tunç Berkman,
Marketing Team: Feza Turunçoğlu Erim, Cemre Aytunç
Agency: Concept
Executive Creative Director: Kerem Özkut
Creative Director: Umut Dizdar, Sedat Dündar
Creative Team: Emin Serkan Gültekin, M. Mert Güler, Ersel Hira, Ali Sina Gürsu
Chief Digital Officer: Alper Ceylan
Brand Leader: Berna Aşkın
Brand Team: Sevdam Kocaoğlu, Serap Balaban
Producer: Mert Turan,
Director: Sedat Dündar, Umut Dizdar
Production Company: Pixel Film
Post-Production Company: IPD
Score: Pelikan Müzik
Media: Mediacom

Join Dwyane WadeJulian DuncanAndrea BrimmerRick Gomez and more at Brandweek Masters Live, on Sept. 14-17, for main stage insights, in-depth Masterclasses and more. Register now (early-bird rates expire 9/1)

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.